By Mary McLoughlin

Breakout Session: Slow Design Using N-light Table

Facilitated by: Julie Lineberger Owner, Joseph Cincotta Principal Architect of Linesync Architecture of Wilmington, Vermont. Other members of their design time helped lead the activity.

Sybil Idelkope – Designer

Adam Lemire – Senior Designer

Ryan Edwards – Intern Designer

Emily Wergin – Office Manager

Kendrick Waterman – Intern Designer

The designers from Linesync, a local Architectural firm, presented us with the task of designing a community-gathering place on “Island Park”, the small island located within the Connecticut River between downtown Brattleboro, Vermont and Hinsdale, New Hampshire. We were able to view this exact site from our windows at the Marlboro Graduate Center, thus adding to the context for this activity. The site is accessed by two bridges: one from Brattleboro and one from Hinsdale. This site was chosen as the vehicle for Thursday’s afternoon session because a new bridge is to be built connecting the two states. This new bridge will enable the existing bridge to act as pedestrian access to the Island. The surrounding land will be free from bridge traffic and permit this new recreational space.

Each participant was given satellite images of the site and pieces of vellum (tracing paper), a pencil and ten minutes to draw what they envision for the space. By placing the tracing paper over the image, I could trace the footprint of the site and work within the topographical constraints and water bodies. After ten minutes we shared our ideas. The usual self-consciousness that comes with sharing one’s ideas, especially when one’s drawing ability is involved, is alleviated because with only ten minutes of drawing time, we all could have only a conceptual drawing and not a perfect masterpiece. We all enjoyed sharing our designs for the space with the other participants at the table and we were given the opportunity to clarify and explain the finer points of our design. The part of the LineSync process that is truly innovative is that, after sharing our ideas with our peers, we had another ten minutes to develop our idea further, or pursue a different one. This could mean, “stealing” an idea presented by someone else and incorporating it into our designs. As Mr. Cincotta imparted to us before the idea session began — one of the two main rules is, “Stealing is Ok, in fact, it’s encouraged”.

The other cardinal rule was that “there is no such thing as a bad idea” which was proven to me as we shared our ideas for the second time. It was fascinating to see that each of us was working with the same plot of land, but each person had different ideas for it. Some focused on a recreational program, with hiking trails and a boat sharing system, or an entertainment approach with an outdoor venue for concerts or outdoor movies. Some addressed issues of the topography and access to the island through a spiral pedestrian ramp for the new bridge and meandering paths connecting pedestrians to the old bridges. Most incorporated elements of all three.

This was a fun exercise, which is relevant to the Town of Brattleboro and the goals of Slow Living. If you would like to see more of the designs created in this session contact LineSync Architecture through their website,